Friday, March 24, 2017

Plans for 45

My 45th birthday has come and gone without mention here on the blog. For the past 5 years, I've blogged on March 12 about my upcoming birthday project, then shared my progress throughout the year. I've had so much fun with each of the projects I've done.

Never say never, but I don't think I'm going to be blogging about a project for 45. I'm still finishing the layouts for the 40-4-Steve project, with 13 more to make and share. I am actively working on CONNECT, my One Little Word for 2017. I still need to make the migration from Blogger to Wordpress, and there are many other things I want to do with my blog. I have some personal goals and plans as well that would not make very interesting blog fodder. In short, you can still expect to see the same kinds of things I've always blogged about (kids' crafts, scrapbooking, rabbits, food, parties, and whatever else strikes my fancy) five days a week, but it probably won't take the form of a birthday project. But like I said, never say never!

On a whim, I entered "45th birthday" in the Amazon search bar and came up with some fun stuff. You can get each of these for any age. They'd make great gifts.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Exploring Rhode Island Through Little Passports

This post contains affiliate links. 

On to our next adventure with Little Passports! This time, Trevor and I did a virtual visit to the nation's smallest state, Rhode Island. Rhode Island, nicknamed the Ocean State, has a lot of coastline. So it was no surprise that the model was a lighthouse. 

We did a hidden picture activity while learning about the Rhode Island School of Design. We also learned that their museum displays collections of paintings, furniture and costumes from around the world. I had no idea! I'd like to visit it sometime. 

Next, Trevor and I invented our own whimsical 'Big Nose' creatures, inspired by the Big Nazo Theater Group of Providence. What fun! No surprise that Trevor's was a big-nosed rabbit. We read about the Vanderbilt family and The Breakers in Newport, which was once a home and now a museum. Through a dot-to-dot, we learned that Rhode Island has many claims to fame, including the oldest flying horse carousel, the first schoolhouse, the oldest water-powered cotton mill, the oldest Fourth of July parade, and the first circus in the United States. 

Time for a craft! The 'Animal Garden' activity was inspired by the Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth. The directions included patterns for an elephant and a unicorn, but we made our own patterns. Any guesses what animal we made? Here's Trevor trimming his bunny topiary. I'm going to show you exactly how to make your own in a separate post during our upcoming Bunny Week

The science experiment in the Rhode Island journal was a twist on the disappearing eggshell experiment Trevor and I did back in August. This time, the goal is to drop the naked egg from an increasing height until it breaks. Messy, but fun and so interesting. Give it a try, if you dare!

The Little Passports Rhode Island Journal is loaded with fun and educational activities. Trevor and I learned how to build toy sailboats from milk cartons, then read about Colt State Park in Bristol. We did a word search about the Italian foods that are prevalent in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence. We learned about important events in the history of Rhode Island, including 1790, when it became the 13th state. 

Finally, it was time to cook. The recipe was for johnnycakes. Yum! 

I've made johnnycakes in the classroom with students and know how prevalent they were in Colonial America, but I didn't realize that Rhode Island is famous for them now and even has a johnnycake festival!

Thanks to Little Passports for another fascinating virtual journey! Trevor and I enjoyed every minute.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wrapping a Gift with a Coloring Book and Pens

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting My Creative Life!

I came home from the Creativation show in January with a bunch of samples of new products, including this coloring book and gel pen set from Leisure Arts:

I really like the patterns in this book and the gel pens are fabulous. They'd make a great gift for anyone who loves arts and crafts. In fact, they'd also make good gift WRAP for anyone who loves arts and crafts! 


Coloring Page and Gel Pen Gift Wrap



Select a page from the coloring book and tear it out. Using the paper trimmer, remove about 1/8" from the length and width of the page.

Assemble the shirt box and fill it with art supplies or whatever else you're giving the recipient. Put the lid on, then adhere the coloring page to the top of the lid.

Cut a long length of curling ribbon and tie it around the box. Do not trim the extra ribbon.

Remove the pens from their container and gather them in a bundle. Set the bundle down on the ribbon and tie the ribbon securely around the pens. Curl the ends of the ribbon and it's ready to go!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

PicMonkey Membership: Premium vs. Supremium

This post contains affiliate links, because I love PicMonkey and you will too. 

I am a rabid fan of PicMonkey, as you probably know. I started with the free version of PicMonkey a a few years ago and loved it. It's ridiculously easy to learn and use. But I kept noticing all the cool features of the Royale membership that I couldn't access. I started the free trial, loved it, and signed up before the 7 days ended. I use it multiple times a week for my Fun Family Crafts job, as well as for my own blog and my crafting and I can't imagine not having the access to all of the editing tools, special effects, fonts, touch-ups, overlays, and everything else. They recently added templates (like this one) and I've become addicted to the speed and ease to using them.

PicMonkey just announced that the Royale membership is now Premium and they've added another membership tier, called Supremium. Here are the differences:

There are no changes between the Royale membership I had before and the Premium membership that it became. Touch-up tools, overlays, fonts, templates, limited storage... check. The Supremium membership adds unlimited storage of re-editable pictures, as well as a better way to organize them. Here's how the costs compare:

I currently have 20 projects in Hub, including my blog header, logo, business card, and headshot. I can definitely see the appeal of keeping all my edited photos in PicMonkey. I'm going to stick with Premium for a little while, but I'm pretty sure that as soon as I have 50 projects in Hub, I'll make the switch to Supremium. 

If you do any photo editing at all (or would like to give it a try for the first time), head over to PicMonkey for the free trial. Let me know what you think!

PicMonkey Photo editing made of win

Monday, March 20, 2017

Quilled Mother's Day Card

Mother's Day is coming up. Here's an easy card a child can make for Mom, Grandma, or a godmother. 

Quilled Mother's Day Card


  • cardstock (lavender)
  • paper trimmer
  • copy paper (purple and pink) or precut quilling paper
  • round toothpick or quilling tool
  • craft glue


1. Cut the cardstock to make a card base. 

2. Use the trimmer to cut the copy paper into strips approximately 3/8" wide. You'll need one pink strip and two purple strips.

3. Start with the heart. Fold the pink strip in half, then use the toothpick or quilling tool to quill each end in toward the folded point. Adjust the heart to make it symmetric. Add a tiny amount of craft glue to the edge of the heart and attach it in the center of the card.

4. To make the M's, fold the purple strips in half. Fold each end to make the peaks of an M, then use the quilling tool to shape the ends. Glue the M's on either side of the heart. 

I made this project as part of Craft Lightning. To see lots of other quick Mother's Day crafts, check out Happy Hour Projects, The Country Chic Cottage, and 30 Minute Crafts each day this week!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Colonial Toys and Games: Button-and-Cup and Cat's Cradle

The fifth graders loved Buzz Saw and Ten-and-Four, but they liked the other toys and games from Colonial America even more.  

They recognized Button-and-Cup right away, as it is very similar to the kendama toys that are so popular now. 


Button-and-Cup Toy


  • egg carton
  • scissors
  • craft stick
  • yarn (approx. 2 ft)
  • button


1. Cut a single cup from the egg carton. Carefully poke the scissors through each side of the cup to make a slot for the craft stick.

2. Gently slide the craft stick into the slots in the egg cup.

3. Thread the button onto the yarn. (If this is tricky, use scotch tape to make an aglet.) Tie a knot at the end of the yarn so that the button will not come off.

4. Securely tie the other end of the yarn to the shorter end of the craft stick. The longer end is the handle. Now, just hold the handle and try to flip the button into the cup!

You can slide the button along the piece of yarn to adjust the difficulty. 

Nice catch!

After Button-and-Cup, we moved on to Cat's Cradle, which also dates back to colonial times. It was very popular when I was a kid in the 1970's, but most of Trevor's friends had never heard of it. But they were really into it. 

All you need is a large loop of yarn. We used Chinese jump ropes when I was a kid, but yarn works just as well. Figuring out the patterns can be tricky, but it is highly satisfying to make it all the way through. 

The kids would have kept going and going with Cat's Cradle if I'd let them. Most of them opted to take it out to recess with them. Pretty cool that toys from the 1600-1700's are popular in 2017. 

I love homemade toys like this. However, I've provided some handy links if you'd rather purchase these fun toys. (Or anything else. Any Amazon purchase you make from my links doesn't cost you any more but earns me a small commission. Thanks for supporting My Creative Life!)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Colonial Games and Toys: Buzz Saw and Ten-and-Four

For my most recent session teaching hands-on history in Trevor's 5th grade classroom, I introduced the kids to toys and games from Colonial America. 

First up, the buzz saw. This simple toy consists of a knotted loop of twine with a button threaded onto it. Hold the twine with the button in the center, then wind it up by making small, rapid circles with your hands. When it is completely wound, pull outward. It should vibrate and make a cool buzzing noise. By moving your hands in and out, you can keep the buzz saw going and going. It takes some practice, though this talented friend of Trevor's managed it right away. 

This toy was definitely not called a buzz saw during colonial times, as the buzzing circular saw was not invented until the end of the 18th century... after US independence. But we do know that children from the colonial era did play with this toy. 

Next, we played a game called Ten and Four. It's a variation of Nim. Gather 14 rocks, dried beans, or other small objects and place them between you and your opponent. The first player can take 1, 2 or 3 of the beans. The second player then takes 1, 2 or 3. The goal is to force your opponent to take the last bean. 

The kids loved it, especially challenging their teacher. Tomorrow I'll share another game and another toy from Colonial America. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Handprint Placemat Gift for Grandma and Grandpa

Need a gift idea for Grandma and Grandpa? How about a set of personalized placemats and some new dishtowels and dishcloths? 

Handprint Placemat Gift for Grandma and Grandpa


  • 2 solid colored dark fabric placemats
  • newspaper
  • white fabric paint
  • paintbrush
  • Sharpie


Spread newspaper on your work surface, then spread one placemat on top of it. Use the paintbrush to coat your right hand evenly with white fabric paint. Press your hand firmly on the bottom right hand corner. 

Repeat the steps for the second placemat. Let the paint dry completely. 

Use a Sharpie to write Grandma on one handprint and Grandpa on the other. Bundle them up with coordinating dishcloths and dishtowels for a gift they're sure to love. 

Please consider making purchases through my Amazon links for these or other products. It doesn't cost you anything extra, and I get a small commission from the sale. Thanks for supporting My Creative Life.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Malibu and the Mauli Ola Foundation

For several years, my nephew Timothy has participated in a really neat event put on by the Mauli Ola Foundation. During their Surf Experience Days, kids with cystic fibrosis are teamed up with professional surfers for a day at the beach. Surfing in salt water provides a natural therapy for those with CF.

Steve, Trevor and I had heard about Timothy's surfing events and seen pictures, but we'd never actually been to one. So when the opportunity came up for us to go, we did. We spent the day before the event exploring the La Brea Tar Pits and Santa Monica, then watched Timothy surfing in Malibu. It was awesome.

Thank you to the Mauli Ola Foundation for all you do. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

'We Are All God's Children' Rainbow Handprint

Why do just one rainbow handprint craft when you can do two?

'We Are All God's Children' Rainbow Handprint Craft


  • cardstock (white, blue)
  • foam brush
  • paint (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
  • paper trimmer
  • heart punch
  • glue


Squirt craft paint onto your hand in rainbow order, starting with red at your fingertips and ending with purple on your thumb and lower palm. Use a foam brush to spread the paint evenly, taking care not to mix the colors too much. 

Stamp your hand onto the center of a piece of white cardstock. Wash your hands and let the paint dry completely.

When the paint is dry, trim the white cardstock so that it has an even margin around the handprint. Use the blue cardstock to make a mat. 

Punch a heart from the scraps of white cardstock and write your message on it. You can use the same message I wrote or something else. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

'Hand-Painted' Paper Plate Rainbow

Usually, the term 'hand-painted' means that a person did the painting vs. a machine. For this project, 'hand-painted' is more literal. 


Hand-Painted Paper Plate Rainbow


  • paper plate
  • scissors
  • craft paint (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
  • cotton balls
  • glue


Cut the paper plate to make an arc.

Squeeze bands of paint onto your fingers. The band of red should stretch from the tip of your pointer finger to the tip of your pinkie. Follow that with orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. The purple should be where your fingers meet your palm.

A helpful hint: if you are doing this project alone, open all the paint bottles BEFORE squirting the red paint onto your fingers. It is a bit challenging to open paint bottles when one of your hand is covered in paint. As you can see, some orange glurped out on my wrist while I was trying to open the bottle.

Put your hand down in the middle of the arc. Keeping your fingers lined up with the edge of the arc, smear one direction, lift and return to center, then smear the other direction. 

It's so pretty! And really satisfying. 

Wash your hands (or do another rainbow project while your hand is still painted) and then cut two cloud shapes from the rest of the paper plate. Fluff up some cotton balls and glue them to the clouds, then glue the clouds to the rainbow. 

 All done! Hang your rainbow with fishing line, tape it to the wall, or display it in a window. 

 This project is great for crafters of all ages, from toddler to adult.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Exploring Arizona Through Little Passports

This post contains affiliate links because I love Little Passports and you will too. 

Trevor had never been to Arizona, so when I traveled there for the Creativation show in January, we turned it into a family vacation. And we brought Little Passports with us. 

Little Passports was a great way to pass time at the airport. First, we learned about Petrified Forest National Park, which Trevor desperately wanted to add to our already-full itinerary. Someday! Then we learned all about the Grand Canyon. That's another Arizona destination on Trevor's bucket list. We enjoyed the photos of the wacky attractions located along Route 66. One of them is Meteor Crater, a mile-wide hole left when a meteorite hit Earth 50,000 years ago. That one is on Steve's bucket list! 

The activity about the different climates in Arizona was very interesting. I'm glad we were in Phoenix in January and not the summer! We read all about Arizona history and famous events that happened there. Next, Trevor followed the directions to draw a gila monster. He added a cute smile, since they are gentle (but poisonous) lizards. The activity about making shadow puppets of Arizona wildlife was neat, but that had to wait until we got to the hotel. 

We saved the rest of the Arizona Little Passports activities for when we were back home. Trevor made us delicious chicken fajitas for dinner that night. Yum!

The science activity was really cool. It was inspired by Arizona's status as the #1 producer of copper in the US, which I didn't know. The experiment was the usual clean-a-penny-with-vinegar, but with a twist. Instead of soaking the pennies, rinsing them and admiring how shiny they became, this takes it a step farther and does a great job showing how copper reacts with oxygen. 

The model was a cactus. 

We certainly saw a lot of cacti in Arizona. One of Trevor's favorite places he visited was the Desert Botanical Garden

Our final activity was making a bolo tie. We'd seen a really clever piece of public art involving bolo ties in Phoenix that Trevor had loved, so he was excited to make his own. We deviated from the instructions a little bit. 

Bolo Tie


  • wood disc
  • large button
  • hot glue
  • straw
  • scissors
  • black cord
  • scotch tape
  • wooden beads


Glue the button to the wood disc. Cut the straw into two small pieces and glue the side by side on the reverse side of the disc. 

He loves the Hot Glue Gun Helpers!

Cut a length of cord so it fits around your neck with the ends dangling down. Wrap a small piece of scotch tape around the ends of the cord, like a shoelace. Thread the cord through one piece of straw and then through the other. It should be a tight fit so that friction holds the bolo tie in place. 

Thread the beads onto the ends of the cord. Tie a knot on each end, then trim the tape off the bottom. Add a dot of hot glue to keep the cord from fraying. 

Now put a wrinkled too-large dress shirt over your bulky sweater, try on your bolo tie and pose for a photo! (That's not actually a step, but it's what Trevor did.)

Trevor and I had great fun exploring Arizona together, both in person and virtually through Little Passports. As always, we learned so much and had great fun together. Check it out!